Monday, November 24, 2008

Supper and Cards with Aunt Philips and Mr Wickham

Lydia Bennet's Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia's online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet's Story, begins.

Wednesday, November 18th, 1801

Being the youngest of five daughters has nothing to recommend it, especially when one is suffered to endure the intimate proximity of one’s cousin in the close confines of a carriage. Jane, Lizzy and Catherine were handed in, crushing themselves together, so as to make it impossible to admit anybody else, and so I was compelled to sit between my sister Mary and Mr Collins, who talked at me without pause for breath all the way to Meryton.

However, this sad start was soon forgotten as on entering my Aunt Philips's abode she immediately announced that Mr Wickham was in the house. As the gentlemen were not yet finished dining, we had to listen to Collins prattle on about Lady Catherine de Bourgh on whose Rosings estate our illustrious cousin has his living. We have heard it all before and I declare I am quite sick of him, I wish he would go back to Hunsford by the earliest poste chaise! I will never understand why my mother is being so tolerant and civil toward him. Surely she can see he has nothing to recommend him but a draughty old Kentish parsonage that I am sure none of us could possibly give a fig about. If he mentions the number of windows or the size of the chimneypieces at Rosings Park once more, I declare I shall gag Mr Collins with his clerical neckerchief!

I declare I love my aunt best of all my relatives, for she dedicated herself to his entertainment forthwith and endured his company and conversation all evening. At last the gentlemen presented themselves and we all fell under Wickham’s spell. It is clear that Lizzy admires him very much and managed to sit herself in the place where he would most likely have to seat himself - next to the only empty chair in the room!

“Miss Lydia, do you attend the Assembly Balls in Meryton with your sisters?” Mr Wickham asked as soon as my sister would allow, turning in his chair to give me his sole attention.

“I have only lately been frequenting them,” I replied, “but have enjoyed it all very much. Do you dance, Mr Wickham?”

“Lydia!” cried Lizzy, piping up before he had a chance to answer, “That is not a question that a lady asks a gentleman.”

“Please, Miss Bennet, there is no harm done,” he answered with great feeling. “As a matter of fact, dancing is one of my favourite occupations and if I may be so bold I should like to make a request. It would be my honour if the sisters who grace the room on either side of me should save a dance with me at their soonest convenience.”

How my heart fluttered at the thought. Lizzy then took every opportunity to turn the conversation round but she must have bored poor Wickham to death because I am sure I heard her mention Mr Darcy more than once. That will certainly frighten a beau away, talking of other men.

We had such a lively game of lottery tickets and I reclaimed all the fish I lost before supper and won many more with the benefit of having supped on hot white soup and almond cheesecake - such a lovely evening, marred only by my insufferable cousin Collins mercilessly droning on all the way home, apologising profusely about everything, except the fact that he was crumpling my poplin pelisse with his posterior!

Lydia Bennet

Illustrations: Mr Collins bowing before his patron, Lady Catherine de Burgh, A photograph of mother-of-pearl gaming fish of the type Lydia would have played with and used for betting in card games - from Donay Games

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